Protesters march at site of proposed training facility near Ocotillo
IVPress Online (2010-03-21) SILVIO J. PANTA
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By SILVIO J. PANTA, Staff Writer
ERIC MILLER PHOTO
A group a protesters marches along a road Saturday morning in protest against Wind Zero in Ocotillo.
Sunday, March 21, 2010 12:27 AM PDT
OCOTILLO — More than 50 people held signs and chanted in protest Saturday during a march toward the site of a proposed law enforcement training facility critics say would bring noise and adversely affect the local environment.
Retiree Tom Hembree, who lives in the Nomirage residential area that sits close to where the facility could be built, said the Coyote Wells Specific Plan project, proposed by the San Diego-based Wind Zero Group Inc., could potentially threaten groundwater resources and create noise from gunfire.
Wind Zero, founded by former U.S. Navy SEALs, bought 1,000 acres of land in 2007 in the county and plans to construct the facility on 400 acres in three phases, according to the company’s Web site.
The stated goal by Wind Zero is to provide a training facility that is unavailable in the Imperial Valley that would be suited for law enforcement and the military, the Web site read.
Calling themselves “People Against Wind Zero,” Hembree and his fellow protesters say the project could affect the limited groundwater resources for the communities of Nomirage and Ocotillo.
Anyone wishing to comment online on the proposed project’s draft environmental impact report has until March 29. The report is available online at http://www.icpds.com/?pid=2308
The noise from gunfire, helicopters and a high-speed race track was also cited as one of the main reasons the group is opposed to seeing the facility built, according the group’s press statement.
The statement also claimed that the noise would “make this tranquil area sound like a war zone and could trigger (post traumatic distress disorder) responses from residents who have previously experienced conflict.”
In addition, Hembree said the group is planning to make its concerns heard before the Imperial County Board of Supervisors on the last Tuesday of this month.
“We don’t need that (the training facility) in a residential community,” Hembree said.
But Wind Zero Chief Executive Officer Brandon Webb said that concerns over noise coming from gunfire would be alleviated since the gun ranges would be enclosed and that the facility would not adversely affect the environment as stated by the project’s opponents.
Webb was interviewed during the week and was not present at the protest.
“Everyone in the law enforcement community is behind” the project that would bring much-needed jobs to the Imperial Valley at a time of a faltering economy, Webb said.
>> Staff Writer Silvio J. Panta can be reached at 760-337-3442 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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